Founder and chief of the Shiv Sena
Born 23 January 1927 (1927-01-23) (age 83)
Balghat, Madhya Pradesh, India
Political party Shiv Sena
Spouse(s) Mina Thackeray
Children Binda Thackeray
Residence Mumbai, India
Balasaheb Thackeray was born to Keshav Sitaram Thackeray (also known as Prabodhankar Thackeray in Balaghat Madhya Pradesh because of his articles in his fortnightly magazine named Prabodhan or "Enlightenment") in a lower-middle class family. Keshav Thackeray was a progressive social activist and writer who was against caste biases and played a key role in the Samyukta Maharashtra Chalwal (literally, United Maharashtra Movement) in the 1950s to form the Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra with Mumbai as its capital.
Balasaheb Thackeray started his career as a cartoonist in the Free Press Journal in Mumbai in the 1950s. His cartoons were also published in the Sunday edition of The Times of India. In 1960, he launched a cartoon weekly Marmik with his brother. He used it to campaign against the growing influence of non-Marathi people in Mumbai targeting Gujaratis and South Indian labor workers.
He formed the Shiv Sena on 19 June 1966 with the intent of fighting for the rights of the natives of the state of Maharashtra (called Maharashtrians). The early objective of the Shiv Sena was to ensure job security for Maharashtrians against immigrants from southern India, Gujaratis and Marwaris.
Politically, the Sena was anti-communist, and wrested control of major trade unions in Mumbai from the Communist Party of India and demanded protection money from mainly Gujarati and marwari business leaders. It later allied itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP-Shiv Sena combine won the 1995 Maharashtra State Assembly elections and came to power. During the tenure of the government from 1995 to 1999, Thackeray was nicknamed "remote control" since he played a major role in government policies and decisions from behind the scenes.
Thackeray has claimed that the Shiv Sena has helped the Marathi manoos (the Marathi commoner) in Mumbai, especially in the public sector. Opposition leftist parties allege that the Shiv Sena has done little to solve the problem of unemployment facing a large proportion of Maharashtrian youth during its tenure, in contradiction to its ideological foundation of 'sons of the soil.'
Thackeray is very vocal in his opposition to people who migrate to Mumbai, to non-Hindus (especially Muslims), and to illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. In the late 1960s to mid-1970s, as part of his "Maharashtra is for Maharashtrians" campaign, Thackeray threatened migrants from South India with harm unless they left Mumbai.
In 2002, Thackeray issued a call to form Hindu suicide squads to counter alleged Muslim violence:
If such suicide squads are formed only then can we take on perpetrators of mindless violence.
In reaction to Thackeray’s call, Maharashtra government registered a case against him for inciting enmity between different groups.
Asia Times further reported on Thackeray’s rhetoric:
"to take the Muslims head on". "Trouble-making Muslims should be wiped out from the country... kick out the four crore [40 million] Bangladeshi Muslims and then the country will be secure," the Shiv Sena leader said. Urging Hindus to start calling India "Hindu rashtra" (Hindu nation), he maintained that only "our religion [Hinduism] is to be honored here" and then "we will look after other religions".
At least two organizations founded and managed by the retired Indian Army officers namely Lt Col (retired) Jayant Rao Chitale and Lt Ge. P.N. Hoon (former commander-in-chief of the Western Command), answered Bal Thackeray’s call to set up the suicide squads in India. Lt Gen. Hoon claimed, Thackeray instructed him to set up the training camps.
Thackeray continues to publish inflammatory editorials in his party's newsletter, Saamana (Confrontation).
On 11 November 2009, Thackeray published an editorial in Saamana which criticised a statement made by Sachin Tendulkar in an interview where he said "Mumbai belongs to India... I am a Maharashtrian and am extremely proud of that, but I am an Indian first". This was followed by wide protests against Bal Thackeray
In February 2010, bollywood super star Shahrukh Khan's film "My Name Is Khan" headed into controversies because of Shiv Sena led by their chief Bal Thackrey. A very intersting article was published by Shri Rajdeep Sardesai, owner and editor-in-chief of IBN-live India
Views on Muslims
Thackeray's views have typically been highly anti-Muslim, usually attacking them and occasionally sympathizing with them. He has declared that he is "not against every Muslim, but only those who reside in this country but do not obey the laws of the land.... I consider such people traitors." His party is viewed as being anti-Muslim, though Shiv Sainiks officially reject this accusation. When explaining his views on Hindutva, he has conflated Islam with violence and has called for Hindus to "fight terrorism and fight Islam". In an interview in Suketu Mehta's book 'Maximum City', he advocates the hanging of Indian Muslims and mass expulsion of Muslim migrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
In the 1980s he had stated that:
"They [Muslims] are spreading like a cancer and should be operated on like a cancer. The... country should be saved from the Muslims and the police should support them [Hindu Maha Sangh] in their struggle just like the police in Punjab were sympathetic to the Khalistanis."
Balasaheb Thackeray criticized and challenged Indian Muslims through his party newspaper, Sāmna, around the time the 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished by members of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the northern town of Ayodhya, on December 6, 1992. Hindus believe that the Babri Mosque was built on the demolished ruins of a Hindu temple in the 16th century, and consider it to be the Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace of the Hindu God Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, one of the Trimurti of the Hindu Pantheon).
The Justice Srikrishna Commission of Enquiry, which investigated the ensuing communal riots in Mumbai, indicted Thackeray for sparking anti-Muslim violence, which led to more than 1,000 deaths in several ensuing riots, many by having kerosene poured on their bodies while alive and then being burned to death. The death toll during the actual act of the demolition of the Mosque was zero. The Srikrishna Commission found that Thackeray was personally responsible, not only for inciting the mobs through his incendiary speeches, but also directly coordinating the movement of the rioters. At the time, Thackeray made allegations that the Commission was "biased" and "anti-Hindu". His views were not supported outside of the Shiv Sena party.
In a deposition before the Srikrishna Commission a witness alleged Thackeray coordinated much of the January 1993 Mumbai carnage. Yuvraj Mohite claimed, "Balasaheb was sitting and he was getting calls from various places. He would ask what was happening at that particular place (from where he got the call) and then he would say, 'Kill them. Send them to Allah.'" Mohite additionally told the commission that "Thackeray –
Ordered that not one Muslim be left alive to stand in the witness box
Asked his men to send the additional police commissioner, A A Khan, to his Allah.
Ordered his men to retaliate to the Hindu killings in Jogeshwari."
Later, in February 1993 Thackeray said, "I am proud of what my boys have done. We had to retaliate and we did. If it was not for us, no one would have controlled the Muslims."
However, in an interview in 1998, he claims to have tempered his stance on many issues that the Shiv Sena had with Muslims, particularly regarding the Babri Mosque or Ram Janmabhoomi issue, saying:
"We must look after the Muslims and treat them as part of us."
He has since made more inflammatory statements regarding Muslims, and reiterated his desire for Hindus to unite across linguistic barriers and to see "a Hindustan for Hindus" and to "bring Islam in this country down to its knees".
However, he has also expressed admiration for Muslims in Mumbai in the wake of the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists. In response to threats made by the leader of the Samajwadi Party that accusations of terrorism directed at Indian Muslims would bring about communal strife, Thackeray said that the unity of Mumbaikars (residents of Mumbai) in the wake of the terrorist attacks was "a slap to fanatics of Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi" and that Thackeray "salute(s) those Muslims who participated in the two minutes' silence on July 18 to mourn the blast victims".
In 2008, Thackeray wrote "Islamic terrorism is growing and Hindu terrorism is the only way to counter it. We need suicide bomb squads to protect India and Hindus,".
Views on people from North India
Main article: 2008 attacks on North Indians in Maharashtra
On March 6, 2008, Bal Thackeray issued an editorial titled Ek Bihari, Sau Bimari (One Bihari, Hundred maladies) in Saamna, Shiv Sena's political mouthpiece, saying Biharis were "an unwanted lot" in the Maharashtra. In what was termed as an apparent bid to recapture his party's Marathi sons of soil plank, which was being hijacked by the MNS leader Raj Thackeray, Bal Thackeray wrote about Biharis,
"They [Biharis] are not wanted in southern India, Assam and also Punjab and Chandigarh. The Biharis have antagonised local population wherever they had settled. The UP-Bihari MPs have shown their ingratitude towards Mumbai and Maharashtra with an anti-Marathi tirade in Parliament."
He also denounced Bihari MPs, saying they were "spitting in the same plate from which they ate" by criticising Mumbaikars and Maharashtrians. He also wrote, "They are trying to add fuel to the fire that has been extinguished, by saying that Mumbaikars have rotten brains." Additionally, he criticized a major holiday celebrated by people from Bihar, UP, and MP which happens six days after the Hindu New Year (Diwali) known as Chath Pooja. He said that it wasn't a real holiday. The outburst was apparently in response to MPs from Bihar who had disrupted the proceedings of the Lok Sabha in protest against the attacks on North Indians.
Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, upset with the remarks, demanded that the Prime Minister and the Centre intervene in the matter immediately. The Saamna editorial prompted at least 16 Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, belonging to the RJD, JD (U), SP and the Congress, to give notice for breach of privilege proceedings against Bal Thackeray. After the matter was raised in the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: "If anybody has made any comment on our members’ functioning in the conduct of business in the House, not only do we treat that with the contempt that it deserves, but also any action that may be necessary will be taken according to procedure and well established norms. Nobody will be spared,"
On March 27, 2008 in protest against Balasaheb Thackeray's editorial, leaders of Shiv Sena in Delhi resigned citing its "outrageous conduct" towards non-Marathis in Maharashtra and announced that they will form a separate party. Addressing a press conference Shiv Sena's North India chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal said the decision to leave the party was taken because of the "partial attitude" of the party high command towards Maharashtrians. "Shiv Sena is no different from Khalistan and Jammu and Kashmir militant groups which are trying to create a rift between people along regional lines. The main aim of these forces is to split our country. Like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Shiv Sena too has demeaned North Indians and treated them inhumanely," he said.
Views against former President APJ Abdul Kalam
Thackeray has been a vocal critic of the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. Thackeray said Kalam was a leading scientist of the country but had "lost the dignity of the post" after he became President. He has criticized Kalam's indecisiveness regarding the conviction of Mohammad Afzal, who has been sentenced to death following his conviction for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. Thackeray criticizes the fact that a convicted terrorist's appeal for clemency is even being considered by Kalam.
"Afzal was sentenced to death by the highest court in this country in October and yet the file has been sitting on the President's table for the past four months. I have not said anything wrong about Kalam. We all have supported him to become President. Afzal's clemency letter is still lying with the President. Give me another example where the President has not taken decision on a clemency petition for four months."
His views on Kalam have been heavily criticized by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi as inappropriate and "violative of decorum".
Admiration of Hitler
Thackeray  has attracted controversy for his praise of Adolf Hitler.
Apparently he was quoted by Asiaweek as saying:
I am a great admirer of Hitler, and I am not ashamed to say so! I do not say that I agree with all the methods he employed, but he was a wonderful organizer and orator, and I feel that he and I have several things in common.... What India really needs is a dictator who will rule benevolently, but with an iron hand." 
In an interview with the Indian Express that was printed on January 29, 2007, Thackeray remarked,
Hitler did very cruel and ugly things. But he was an artist, I love him (for that). He had the power to carry the whole nation, the mob with him. You have to think what magic he had. He was a miracle.... The killing of Jews was wrong. But the good part about Hitler was that he was an artist. He was a daredevil. He had good qualities and bad. I may also have good qualities and bad ones. 
However, in the Star Talk talk show on channel Star Plus, he claimed himself not to admire Hitler.
Thackeray's supporters, such as columnist Varsha Bhosle, have defended Thackeray's position as necessary in what they claim is an atmosphere of religious extremism against Hindus. In defense of a statement by Thackeray that "If the Muslims of India behave as the Jews in Germany did, they will deserve the same treatment," Bhosle writes:
Germany's Jews...? What else is required for Hindus to shake off the stupor and consider protecting our civilisation and culture? If telling it like it is makes one a Nazi, I say: Fine, better that than the spineless, deaf, dumb, numb and blind state exalted as Nehruvian Secularism. I wouldn't even spit on it.
In an article appearing in Newindpress.com on August 20, 2007, Thackeray is quoted as wanting to be a dictator and the Hitler of the whole of India:
He is on record as having told the Navakal: "Yes, I am a dictator. It is a Hitler that is needed in India today." He was once asked in a television programme whether he wanted to be the Hitler of Mumbai. "Do not underestimate me," he is reported to have retorted. "I am (the Hitler) of the whole of Maharashtra and want to be of whole of India." The Hitler question was put to him in September 1996 by Outlook magazine as well during an interview. "Once you’d expressed admiration for certain facets of Hitler." "Comparison was inevitable," the interviewer prompted. Thackaray said: "I have not sent anybody to the gas chamber. If I’d been like that, you wouldn't have dared to come and interview me."
Pro-Tamil Tiger views
Thackeray has admitted that he is pro-Tamil Tiger. He says, "I am proud of the Tigers for the gallant manner in which they are fighting."
He also wanted a ban on the LTTE lifted by the center-wing government.
Rift in party
An increase in intra-party rivalry between Balasaheb Thackeray's son Uddhav Thackeray, and nephew Raj Thackeray led to divisions within the Shiv Sena. In addition to this, several old hands such as hard-line leader Narayan Rane were expelled or left the Sena.
On December 18, 2005, Raj Thackeray announced his resignation as a primary member of the Shiv Sena. On March 9, 2006, Raj announced the formation of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
On November 28, 2009, in another jolt to Shiv Sena, Smita Thackeray, daughter in law of Bal Thackeray announced to quit Shiv Sena and join Congress party.
Valentine's Day protests
Boycotting shops and restaurants that allow young people to celebrate the "western" holiday of Valentine's Day, interpreted as bestial, indecent and a-Bharatiya (un-Indian) by Thackeray, is one of his recent actions. These boycotts have often culminated in violence and the destruction of those shops.
On February 14, 2006, Balasaheb Thackeray condemned and apologized for the violent attacks of Shiv Sena members upon a private Valentine's Day celebration in Mumbai. "It is said that women were beaten up in the Nallasopara incident. If that really happened, then it is a symbol of cowardice", Thackeray said, "I have always instructed Shiv Sainiks that in any situation women should not be humiliated and harassed." Thackeray and the Shiv Sena remain opposed to Valentine's Day celebrations, although they may support an "Indian alternative".
Thackery is satirized in Salman Rushdie's novel The Moor's Last Sigh as "Raman Fielding". Suketu Mehta interviews Thackeray in his critically acclaimed, Pulitzer-nominated, non-fiction 2004 book Maximum City.
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Leader Balasaheb Thackeray
Headquarters Sena Bhavan, Mumbai
Ideology Bhumiputr (Marathi nationalism), Hindutva (Hindu nationalism)
Alliance National Democratic Alliance
Politics of India
Shiv Sena (Devanāgarī: शिव सेना Śiv Senā, meaning Army of Shiv, referring to Shivaji), is a far-right political party in India founded on 19 June 1966 by Balasaheb Thackeray. It is currently headed by Thackeray's son, Uddhav Thackeray. The party originally emerged out of a movement in Mumbai, the then-Bombay, broadly favouring increased influence of Marathis in Maharashtra. It built a strong base amongst the Marathi community in the sixties based on its ideology that Maharashtra belonged to the Marathi community and that they be given preference over migrants from other Indian states.
Although the party's primary base is still in Maharashtra, it has tried to expand to a pan-Indian base. Gradually the party moved from solely advocating a pro-Marathi ideology, to one supporting a broader Hindu nationalist agenda as it aligned itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party has taken part in numerous Maharashtra state governments at several times and was a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance cabinet that ruled India between 1998-2004. Members of Shiv Sena are referred to as Shiv Sainiks.
1.2 Early years
1.3 1995 election
1.4 Shift to Hindutva and alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party
1.5 Raj Thackeray split
2 Party structure
3 Electoral performance
4 Recent electoral victories
5.1 Claims of benefits to Maharashtraians
5.2 Dharavi emancipation
5.3 Improvements in infrastructure
6.1 Bhumiputra campaign
6.2 Party violence
6.3 Allegations of violence against Muslims
6.4 Claims of tempered stance
6.5 Meenatai desecration protests
6.6 Shiv Sena & MNS clashes
6.7 Legal support
6.8 Shahrukh Khan Controversy
7 Attack on CNN-IBN offices
8 See also
9 Further reading
11 External links
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v • d • e
A poster from Shiv Sena's campaign against Valentine's DayKolkataAfter the Independence of India in 1947, regional administrative divisions from the colonial era were gradually changed and states following linguistic borders were created. Within the Bombay Presidency a massive popular struggle was launched for the creation of a state for the Marathi-speaking people. In 1960 the presidency was divided into two linguistic states, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Moreover, Marathi-speaking areas of the erstwhile Hyderabad state were joined with Maharashtra. Mumbai, in many ways the economic capital of India, became the state capital of Maharashtra. On one hand, people belonging to the Gujarati and Marwari communities owned the majority of the industry and trade enterprises in the city. On the other, there was a steady flow of South Indian migrants to the city, and who came to take over many white-collar employments.
In 1960 Balasaheb Thackeray, a Mumbai-based cartoonist, began publishing the satirical cartoon weekly Marmik. Through this publication he started disseminating anti-migrant sentiments. On 19 June 1966, Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena as a political organisation. It should be noted that at the time of its foundation, the Shiv Sena was not a political party as such.
The political approach of the Shiv Sena was centred around the concept of bhumiputr (sons of the soil), the idea that Maharashtra inherently belonged to the Marathi community. The Shiv Sena was thus born out of a feeling of resentment about the relative marginilization of the native Marathi people in their own state by people whom they perceived as outsiders.
The Shiv Sena especially attracted a large number of disgruntled and often unemployed Marathi youth, who were attracted by Thackeray's charged anti-migrant oratory. Shiv Sena cadres became involved in various attacks against the South Indian communities, vandalising South Indian restaurants and pressuring employers to hire Marathis.
Another main characteristic of the early years of the Shiv Sena was the frequent struggles against communist trade unions. Prior to the formation of the Shiv Sena, the Communist Party of India played a dominant role in labour politics in Mumbai. The Shiv Sena was supported by elements inside the Indian National Congress, who hoped that the new organization would be capable of weakening the communist trade union influence. Soon Shiv Sena cadres were involved in a series of violent conflicts with the communist trade union activists. In 1970 the CPI MLA of Dadar, Krishna Desai, was assassinated. CPI charged the Shiv Sena for the murder, and held Thackeray as responsible for the act.
The Shiv Sena-BJP combine won the 1995 Maharasthra state elections. After assuming state government power, Shiv Sena began to redress its organisation. A 'Shivsena Rajyapramukh Parishad' convention was held in Mumbai six months after the election. At the meeting a large number of local party leaders and representatives of various wings of the party participated. The meeting filled the function of reorienting the party organisation to adapt to the new tasks of being a party in government.It renamed Bombay as Mumbai.
Shift to Hindutva and alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party
The Sena started placing more weight on the Hindutva ideology in the 1970s as the hallmark 'sons of the soil' cause was weakening. With the shift to Hindutva, Thackeray increasingly made some controversial moves against Muslims and neighboring Pakistan.
The party has ruled the state in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from 1995-99. The Sena is the opposition party in the state along with the BJP since 1999. The Shiv Sena-BJP combine governs the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Traditionally the main strongholds of Shiv Sena have been Mumbai and the Konkan coastal areas. However, in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections the result was reversed. The Shiv Sena made inroads in the interior parts of the state, while suffering losses in Mumbai.
Raj Thackeray split
In July 2005 Narayan Rane was expelled from the party, which sparked internal conflict in the party. In December the same year Raj Thackeray, Bal Thackeray's nephew, left the party. Raj Thackeray later founded a new party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). After the split, clashes have occurred between followers of the two Senas.
Although the MNS is a break-away group from the Shiv Sena, the party is still based on Hindutva and Bhumiputra ideologies. When unveiling the party in an assembly at Shivaji Park he said, that everyone is anxious to see what will happen to Hindutva. When unveiling, he also said, "I shall elaborate on the party's stance on issues like Hindutva, its agenda for development of Maharashtra and the significance of the party flag colours at the 19 March public meeting."
Raj Thackeray considers himself an Indian nationalist (not just a regionalist) and claims that the Congress is two-faced.
A Shiv Sena flyer in Nedumangad, KeralaAs the Pramukh (Chief) of the party Balasaheb Thackeray takes all major decisions, and has claimed that he ran the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government of 1995 to 1999 with what he called a 'remote control.' Activists and members of the Shiv Sena call themselves Shiv Sainiks, and carry out most of the party's grassroots work. In recent times, Thackeray does not concern himself with day-to-day activities of the party, which is run by his youngest son Uddhav Thackeray.
The recently refurbished Sena Bhavan located in the Dadar locality in Mumbai has served as the headquarters of the Sena since 1976. The Sena's shakhas (Branches) spread throughout the state of Maharashtra as well as in selected locations in other states decide upon most of the local issues in their particular cities or towns.
e • d Election Candidates Elected Votes Source
1971 Parliament 5 227468 
1980 Parliament 2 129351 
1989 Parliament 3 1 339426 
1989 Goa Assembly 6 4960 
1991 Parliament 22 4 2208712 
1993 Madhya Pradesh Assembly 88 75783 
1996 Parliament 132 15 4989994 
1996 Haryana Assembly 17 6700 
1997 Punjab Assembly 3 719 
1998 Parliament 79 6 6528566 
1998 Delhi Assembly 32 9395 
1998 Himachal Pradesh Assembly 6 2827 
1999 Parliament 63 15 5672412 
1999 Goa Assembly 14 5987 
2000 Orisa Assembly 16 18794 
2001 Kerala Assembly 1 279 
2002 Goa Assembly 15 
2004 Parliament 56 12 7056255 
2009 Parliament 22 11 6828382 
Recent electoral victories
The Shiv Sena achieved electoral victories in local Maharashtra elections on February 2007, together with their partner the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and are set for another five year term. They have achieved this on the platform of preference to Maharashtrians, which appealed to their vote bloc. The victory was noteworthy for reasons more than one. It means that by 2012, when the next BMC elections are due, the Shiv Sena would have ruled over Mumbai for an uninterrupted spell of 20 years. It was also a relief to the Junior Thackeray who personally supervised the campaign strategy.
The Sena-led combine, which had suffered serious reverses in all the assembly by-elections in the past two years got 111 of the 227 seats. Out of the declared 226 seats, the Sena has won 83 seats, BJP 28, the left-wing opponents, the Indian National Congress won 71, and other opposition groups Nationalist Congress Party won 14 and MNS won 7.
Claims of benefits to Maharashtraians
Supporters of the Sena have claimed that the party has benefited the Marathi Manus (Marathi man) in Mumbai, especially in the public sector.
The Sena claims to have played a central role in the emancipation of 500,000 slum dwellers in the Dharavi area of Mumbai, the largest slum in Asia. However, the state's policy of giving free houses to slum dwellers has been mired in controversy ever since it was introduced by the Shiv Sena-BJP government a decade ago.
 Improvements in infrastructure
In addition, the Sena has been active in trying to improve infrastructure in Maharashtra, particularly in the financial capital of Mumbai. Nearly 40 flyovers in Mumbai and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway were constructed under the Shiv Sena administration, which led to a significant infrastructural boom in Mumbai. While successive State governments have been guilty of neglecting Mumbai's transport problems, the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP government drastically altered the course. As quoted by a local newspaper, " by initiating a range of road schemes, the Sena unequivocally opted for private, motorised transport in preference to public transport." The report actually says that "critics castigate" this policy, pointing out that "only nine per cent" of the city's commuters use private transport.
These moves have been a crucial factor in its increasing popularity within India and the promises of further improvement have boosted the Shiv Sena's campaigns.
Shiv Sena was involved in violence in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir on 14 July 2008, as they were blocked by Central Reserve Police Force personnel from marching towards Jammu city. The Sena was demonstrating against a decision by the government of Kashmir to not hand over land to a Hindu shrine board, as the proposal had caused some of the largest protests in Kashmir's history, and stirred resentment and fears of "demographic dilution". Shiv Sena has raised the squadron on occasion since at least 1987, when 125 activists participated in what was termed "morale boosting" activities aimed at strengthening the Hindu community in Punjab during the 1980s insurgency there. The group also vowed to send this squad to Srinagar in 2004 to hoist the Indian flag at the city's main intersection, Lal Chowk. Later that year, the Shiv Sena attempted to disrupt India and Pakistan from playing cricket in Delhi. Shiv Sena claims the members are willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believe is India's rightful existence as a Hindu nation.
During its early years, the Sena occasionally resorted to violence and threats against people belonging to other Indian communities as part of its 'sons of the soil' ideology. In the early years of the Sena, the party's widely circulated Marathi language-weekly Marmik was instrumental in inflaming the anti-migrant sentiment in Mumbai's Maharashtrians. Thackeray, then a cartoonist for the Free Press journal, initially targeted the growing number of South Indians by inflammatory slogans like "lungi hatao pungi bajao" (referring to the lungi, a Marathi word for the traditional men's dress in South India), and "yendu gundu" (a derogatory description of the Dravidian languages spoken by the people from South India). During this period, Shiv Sainiks launched a string of attacks on the South-Indian owned Udupi restaurants that were becoming popular in Mumbai. In a similar manner, Thackeray later targeted Gujaratis, Marwaris, Biharis, and other Muslims from North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh ('UPites') through his speeches. Moreover, Thackeray threatened a number of local industrialists and businessmen with action unless they offered preferential employment to Maharashtraian people.
The Sena has been accused of being involved in coordinated political violence to propagate its ideologies and attack opposing ideologies. For this reason, it has sometimes been described as a militant right-wing group.
In the 1970s, Shiv Sena members were accused as responsible for killing, Communist Party of India (CPI) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Parel neighbourhood in Central Mumbai. However, the attackers were not indicted for murder. On 8 February 2006, Sena workers, led allegedly by Sena's student wing, attacked the office of the Zee TV channel, ransacking and damaging the office. The attack came in response to a satirical skit titled 'Kaka mala Vachva' (Marathi for 'Uncle, protect me'), staged during the awards function hosted by the channel at the Bandra-Kurla complex. The skit was reportedly a comment on the power tussle within the Thackeray family, which ultimately resulted in the exit of Thackeray's nephew Raj from the party some time ago.
In addition to its campaign against non-Maharashtraians in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena protests have been known to break down into violence and force in public in the name of protecting Hindutv from what it deems as corrupting western influences. The party has been involved in organized protests, pickets, market shutdowns and strikes that have been known to degenerate into violent clashes and in some instances riots. For instance, Shiv Sena activists have attacked shops in Mumbai selling gifts for Valentine's Day as part of the party's campaign against 'vulgar' western influences on youth. Likewise, in 1998, Shiv Sainiks attacked movie theatres in Mumbai screening director Deepa Mehta's Fire, a highly controversial film based on a lesbian theme on the grounds that such films violated Hindu ethos and were immoral for Hindus to watch. As a result, the screening of the movie was withdrawn. Later, members of the Sena's Varanasi branch launched aggressive protests against the filming of Mehta's Water, on the grounds that such films were made with the designs of intentionally defaming Hinduism by portraying Varanasi and other holy cities in an inaccurate and negative light. As a result of the protests, the location for shooting the film was shifted to the neighbouring Sri Lanka.
Allegations of violence against Muslims
The Shiv Sena has also been accused of orchestrating violence against Muslims. The Sena is widely alleged to have played an active role in the riots in Mumbai following the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992 in the north-Indian holy city of Ayodhya. On 23 January 1993, the then Congress-led Government of Maharashtra appointed Justice B.N. Srikrishna (then a sitting Judge of the Bombay High Court) to head a one-man commission with the task of investigating the riots. The Commission indicted the Sena for its direct involvement in coordinating the anti-Muslim riots, and accused Thackeray of "commanding his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate by organised attacks against Muslims." However, Thackeray was absolved of all criminal charges in July 2000 after seven years of judicial proceedings. However, the same report cited also says this: " India's Supreme Court has also found Thackeray guilty of inciting communal hatred against Muslims."
Additionally, as part of their efforts to hamper any collaboration between India and the Muslim dominated Pakistan, Shiv Sainiks have resorted to damaging cricket pitches in stadiums where the Indian and Pakistani cricket team were scheduled to play. The two most prominent instances of the Sena's targeting pitches are the destruction of the pitch at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in 1991 and the vandalizing of the Feroz Shah Kotla Grounds pitch in national capital Delhi in 1999. The Sena orchestrated these activities in an atmosphere of growing tensions between the two nations.
Claims of tempered stance
In an interview in 1998, Thackeray claims to have tempered his stance on many issues that the Shiv Sena had with Muslims, particularly regarding the Babri Mosque or Ramjanmabhoomi issue, saying: "We must look after the Muslims and treat them as part of us, as long as they are loyal to the nation, to the Constitution of Hindustan." In addition, some members of the Sena claim that the party does not discriminate on the basis of religion and is based on pure nationalism.
Meenatai desecration protests
On 9 July 2006, after some unidentified individuals desecrated the statue of Meenatai (the late wife of Bal Thackeray), Shiv Sainiks blocked roads at Dadar in central Mumbai and damaged a police outpost, and later launched statewide protests mired with isolated incidences of violence in Nagpur, Pune, Nashik and other cities in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena & MNS clashes
On 10 October 2006 clashes erupted between supporters of Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) headed by Raj Thackery. It was alleged that workers of MNS had tore the posters bearing the photographs of Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackrey near the SIES college in Mumbai. Later as retaliation it was alleged that Shiv Sena workers brought down the hoardings with Raj Thackrey's photo near the Sena Bhavan at Dadar.
As the news spread about the incident groups gathered near the Sena Bhavan and started pelting stones at each other. In this incident a policeman was injured and many supporters of both parties were injured. To restore normalcy in the situation the police fired tear gas shells at the mob.
Normalcy was eventually restored following police action and the appearance of Uddhav Thackeray and his cousin Raj Thackeray on the spot. Uddhav appealed to Sena workers to go back home. He said:
"The police will take necessary action. This is happening because many people are joining us from MNS. The defections have started and that is why they are resorting to such actions".
The division chief of the Shiv Sena Milind Vaidya said that they had lodged a complaint with the local police against an MNS worker who was involved in the incident. MNS general secretary Pravin Darekar, however, pinned the cause down to local elections in the SIES college. He alleges that the Sena is concerned about losing their hold over the colleges and that is why they are trying to color the issue, adding that the Sena's allegations had no merit. Raj Thackeray asserts that MNS could not have vandalized the pictures, seeing as how he and his members revere Bal Thackeray.
Shiv Sena voiced support to the terror accused of the Malegaon bombings of 2008, Pragya Singh Thakur.
Shahrukh Khan Controversy
Since early February 2010, the party has held to ransom, the release of a much awaited Bollywood film, My Name Is Khan, directed by Karan Johar, starring Shahrukh Khan as the lead actor. Menacing dictates came from the Sena chiefs to stop the release of the film following comments by the actor in support of inclusion of Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League, 2010, as well as his comments where he had stated that he was an "Indian first" as opposed to being a person of the state first. His being a north Indian (v.s.) and belonging to the Muslim community added to his plight in the city that is "controlled" by the Sena, though not ruled by it. The matter seemed resolved for a while, but in spite of making a public statement that they would not disrupt the screening, Shiv Sena cadres have been burning posters and objecting to the release. Over 1600 people have been taken into preventive custody and over 10,000 police personnel deployed to protect movie theaters against wanton violence by the Sena.
Attack on CNN-IBN offices
The offices of Hindi and Marathi TV news channels IBN-7 and IBN-Lokmat in Mumbai and Pune were attacked and vandalised by Shiv Sena activists on 20 November 2009.
Shiv Sena attributed the attacks to the criticisms of Bal Thackeray by the news channel over his remarks on Sachin Tendulkar. Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut described the attacks as "spontaneous". Various Shiv Sena spokespersons have been justifying the attacks.